Friday, December 14, 2012

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Episode 9: Ron and Diane
By: Carlos Uribe

Parks and Recreation is a show about Pawnee's parks and recreation department and a town councilwoman named Leslie Knope.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The friendship between Ron and Leslie is one of the strongest that this series has. Leslie doesn't just go to Leslie for advice but the two genuinely care for each other. Leslie is willing to do almost anything for her former boss. She's willing to show up to support him when Ron gets nominated for a woodworking award on a chair that he had built. When she gets to meet Diane, she decides to hand out her approval. When Tammy shows up, Leslie is willing to do anything to ensure that she doesn't get in the way of Diane and Ron. The Leslie and Ron relationship is one of the strongest this show has and it forms the core of this episode. This episode doesn't just have Leslie do anything she can for Ron or Ron express his loyalty to Leslie but it also creaters some tension between Diane and Leslie. The reason is because Diane realizes that Leslie is able to have a connection with Ron that is very unigue. A bond that she hasn't been able to get with Ron. Diane doesn't see Tammy as the major threat to her relationship with Ron but Leslie. The only way for the series to properly make this episode work was to have Tammy come in and start to cause problems. Diane's concerns about Leslie make an impact because she's met Tammy and realizes just what exactly Ron's ex-wife is trying to do. When Diane confronts Leslie, it comes as a surprise even though the show had been subtly hinting towards that reveal. This meant it didn't come out of left-field because that's really what this episode was ultimately about.

The sub-plot involved Jerry. Diane, Andy, April, and Tom all have a tradition where they put money in a box everytime Jerry does something stupid. They take all the money they collect and at the end of the year, they treat themselves to a feast. It's very mean but the characters don't really have a problem with it. Jerry doesn't know so his feelings aren't hurt and they get to treat themselves. It isn't until Ann finds out about the box and their “Jerry Dinner” that she tells them that what they're doing is wrong. She also plants the idea that they should at least invite Jerry to the dinner. When the four are heading towards the dinner, Donna realizes that Ann was right. What they are doing is being terrible people. She turns the car around and they go to Jerry's house in order to invite him. That's when they find out that Jerry is having a Christmas party. They believe they weren't invited but Ann, Chris, and Ben all were. The four try to get into the party but Ann only allows them to come in when they have all done something nice for Jerry. Donna is rewarded for her intention to invite Jerry into the party and the others come in when they give him the money. Jerry is so often the punchline of so many jokes that the characters make that it's always nice when the series undercuts this with the constant reveal that Jerry is really an actually nice man who doesn't deserve it. This doesn't stop the sub-plot ending with Jerry accidentally getting locked out of his own home. This is primarily my problem with the plot: it's all about how the characters are mean to Jerry and yet the show itself can't help but shut the door on Jerry. It's good for a cheap laugh but it seems to undermine what the sub-plot was all about.

Ben and Chris went to Jerry's party together. The two came into Pawnee as friends but they have been seperated since then. Ben ended up leaving his job at city hall, ran the campaign of Leslie Knope, went to Washington D.C. to run a Congressional campaign, and then got engaged to Leslie. Chris has been spending his time as city manager and going to therapy. One has been able to move forward in every way while the other one is dealing with his emotional issues. The two decide that they're going to spend the party together and Ben gets to see first-hand how valuable therapy has been for Chris. Chris is not only perfectly fine with drinking egg nog with fat but also his decaying body. He's even able to face an encounter with an ex-girlfriend without falling apart. This is a nice way to show Chris' development but it also missed an opportunity to show Ben's development as well. That would have made the sub-plot a lot stronger as their spending time together could have revealed how both of them have grown rather than just one of them.

Ron and Diane is a funny episode of Parks and Recreation. It hits all the right notes when it comes to the central friendship between Ron and Leslie while at the same time providing a great return for Tammy. The sub-plot with Ann and the other characters would have worked better if the writers had treated Jerry with the same respect that it was demanding from it's characters. The Ben and Chris sub-plot would have worked better if it had been more fleshed out to also show how different Chris has become. Overall, it was a hilarious episode but there were simply moments that could have worked out better.

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